The Stars may not be mired in bankruptcy hearings like the Rangers, but they aren't close to sniffing the postseason like AL West-leading Texas either. The Stars are up for sale as well, and they haven't qualified for the playoffs in the last two seasons. Add in the decision this summer to cut ties with franchise icon Mike Modano and longtime goalie Marty Turco, and this is clearly a time of transition for the Stars.
2009-10 Record: 37-31-14, 88 points (fifth in the Pacific Division, 12th in Western Conference, did not qualify for playoffs)
Bruins record vs. Stars: Boston leads the all-time series 73-27-23-2, and the Bruins won the only meeting last year as Marc Savard scored a pair of goals and Tim Thomas made 27 saves in a 3-0 shutout at Dallas on Oct. 16.
When to watch: The Bruins host the Stars on Thursday, Feb. 3; the Bruins do not play in Dallas this season.
Familiar faces: Dallas has become a haven for former Bruin netminders in recent years. Last season, Alex Auld served as Turco's backup before being waived and claimed by the New York Rangers. He's been replaced by another ex-Bruin, as Dallas signed Andrew Raycroft this summer to serve as Kari Lehtonen's understudy. Another former Boston goalie has moved on though, as Andy Moog was not retained as an assistant coach on Marc Crawford's staff.
Key additions: G Andrew Raycroft (free agent); RW Adam Burish (free agent); D Brad Lukowich (free agent
Key losses: C Mike Modano (free agent); G Marty Turco (signed with Chicago); C Warren Peters (signed with Minnesota)
Burning question: What will life be like in Dallas without Modano?
While Modano has reportedly agreed to a deal with Detroit, the Stars are definitely moving on from the last link to their Minnesota roots. Modano debuted with the then North Stars in the 1989 playoffs and holds the top spot in just about every offensive category in the franchise record books. He's played more games (1,459) and scored more goals (557), assists (802) and points (1,359) than any other North Star or Star. But that production has slowed in recent years, including just 14-16-30 totals in 59 games last season. Replacing him on the ice won't be a major problem, as Brad Richards (24-67-91 last year) has already assumed the mantle of the club's top-line center. But it will be off the ice where Dallas will miss Modano's leadership and perhaps even his marketability as the longtime face of the franchise.
2010-11 outlook: Even without Modano, the Stars have some nice pieces in place up front. Richards is coming off an impressive rebound year as the former Conn Smythe winner matched his career high in points, while former Hab Mike Ribeiro (19-34-53) continues to post solid numbers. Loui Eriksson showed his 36-goal campaign in 2008-09 was no fluke as he followed it up with 29-42-71 totals last year, and youngsters James Neal, 22, and Jamie Benn, 21, offer hope for the future after combining for 49 goals and 96 points last year.
The Stars are sure to fill the penalty box even more frequently than the net, with hard-nosed Canadian Olympian Brenden Morrow, agitator Steve Ott (22 goals, 153 PIMs) and tough guy Krys Barch (20 fighting majors) joined by gritty Chicago castoff Adam Burish this year. The key for Dallas will be how Lehtonen fares in his first full season with the Stars. The oft-injured former top pick (second overall by Atlanta in 2002) has big skates to fill himself as he takes over for Turco, who leaves Dallas as the franchise's all-time leader in games played for a goalie, wins and shutouts. A healthy and effective Lehtonen is vital to the Stars' hopes of returning to the postseason.
Did you know? The Bruins and then-North Stars were actually division rivals at one point, playing together in the old Adams Division for three seasons from 1978-81. Maybe that helps explain the bad blood that so often seems to flow when these clubs get together. Boston and Minnesota combined for an NHL record 406 penalty minutes when they clashed at the Garden on Feb. 26, 1981, with Keith Crowder setting a Bruins record with 43 minutes in the sin bin that night. More recently, the Bruins and Stars had a memorable dustup in Boston on Nov. 1, 2008, as Dallas bad boys Ott and Sean Avery stirred up a series of scraps and skirmishes. The result was 144 minutes in penalties and a defining moment for a Bruins team that went on to finish first in the East that season.
Next: We'll head over to Los Angeles to check out how the close the resurgent Kings are to becoming a legitimate Cup contender on Wednesday.